By: Snorri Kristjansson
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.
The back of my ARC of this novel calls it “AN EPIC VIKING SAGA ABOUT THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW”. I really wish they wouldn’t have done that. Maybe they were talking about the entire series? Even so. It’s hardly within the realm of the jacket copy folks to decide whether a story is “EPIC” or not. It unfairly sets the book up for failure if you ask me. The reader goes into the story expecting some broad story of epic proportions. I don’t think they got that in this first novel. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not, in my eyes, an epic novel either.
The language is good
throughout which is sometimes hit or miss with a translation. The translation team here did a pretty good job. (ooops. It’s not really a translation. I made the assumption, and I was wrong.) It’s quite obvious that Kristjansson knows a great deal about the viking life and took great care in crafting the viking world that he sets the story in. The characters are good, but could have done with a bit more development. Some of them were very quickly glanced over in the beginning and middle of the book, only to become somewhat important cogs to the story towards the end. I don’t think they needed to be main characters, but they went from being what I would call “filler” characters to being integral characters.
The plot and story is very good. It draws you into the world, and the lives of the characters easily. As the series continues, I expect that the “conflict between the old gods and the new” will become more pitched and more evident. Even here, as we set up for it, there’s plenty of action, and a good job is done of contrasting the old norse gods and the new “white Christ”.
I especially enjoyed the level of detail that Kristjansson put into the world and the main characters. It never felt forced, and wasn’t filled with long prose filled paragraphs of explanation.
I’m not sure what genre this book really is going to land in. I suppose you could call it a historical fiction, but I also want to call it a fantasy. It’s certainly more rooted in the historical fiction category though. Swords of Good Men will be a book to watch if that’s your genre of choice, as will the series. The series might live up to the “epic” tag.